YouTube’d memories: Hotel California

When I answered the “favorite song” question in the Photobucket meme (see #9), I actually chose my number two song. I think it is called “the familiarity effect” in cognitive psychology – I listen to my CD compilation of favorite Beatles’ songs occasionally, while I don’t even have a CD compilation of favorite “assorted” songs.[…]


Aimless wanderer

The spring showed a bit of skin today, and I could only look out the window for so long before deciding that I’d better get up and go out. One of the first thoughts was a round of golf, but my last round in December managed to dampen my enthusiasm for the activity. Instead, I[…]


Riding lessons

Besides giving everybody a chance to see my girls enjoy an exotic – for us – pursuit, I also aimed at illustrating the quick-changing weather with this clip. Alas, compressed diminished quality of the video made that less discernible. Just smile at the sight of the girls ahorse, then…     P.S. I know I[…]


I’ve been caught

I could only be stealthy for so long. A speed camera finally caught me in the act.

As far as I can tell, I ran afoul of one of the weirdest of the speed limits. In a “built-up urban” area, the national limit is 30 mph, unless posted otherwise. And when it is not posted otherwise? The only thing that indicates this limit is the presence of lamp-posts – you will never find explicit signage.

So, apparently, on our way out of Wales, on a road that I would not deem urban, my brain did not register the lamp-posts. And now, I have received an official letter, advising me that the driver of my car “is alleged” to had driven at the speed of 41 mph in a 30-mile zone. “This allegation is supported by photographic and/or video evidence”, solemnly states the letter.



Lonesome again

Well, here I am, with only a computer for company, four full weekend days ahead unencumbered with any plans whatsoever, and an unappetizing concept of surviving for a while on my own once again. On a bright side, I should shed a dozen pounds, having no one to lovingly feed me. Yes, the family is[…]


Music of My Life

Warning: Despite English narration, majority of the clips used in this post are in Russian. Three other European languages, besides English, are also present. I hope my English-language audience will still enjoy the music.

My kid brother did me one better and created a meme of his own. While he did not explicitly state the rules, they are fairly simple:

  1. Think back to what music was your favorite at every 5-year interval of your life,
  2. Illustrate with YouTube clips.

I could not let such a nice idea go stale, so what follows is my own excursion into how my music tastes evolved.

Before we get into specifics, I should posit, that unlike Kisintin’s, my musical affinities have not really changed much over the years. Surely, I went through periods of liking specific genres and performers, which subsequently faded away from my playlists, but I largely like the same type of music today that I liked fifteen years ago.

Also, many of my favorites became such non-contemporaneously. My favorite rock group disbanded before I was born, and several of my favorite performers passed away before I was old enough to appreciate their art. In many cases, I became fond of musical acts years after their original releases. What can I say? When it comes to music, my tastes are often retro

Enough of idle babbling. Ready?



Selling IT to schoolchildren

A colleague from work and I volunteered to participate in a local educational workshop program for high school children. The theme of the program was promoting the notion of the Diploma in IT, and our task was to come up with an engaging way of illustrating the importance of IT skills in our particular line of work.

Riiiight! How exactly do you engage a bunch of 14-year-olds in a discussion about software development in investment banking industry?



Back from Wales

This has not been the most exciting of trips, for two main reasons. First, it was mighty cold and, unlike in London, where not a single snowflake has graced us with its presence this winter, we had nothing less than intermittent hail following us through the northern part of Wales. Second, – and probably more important! – Wales is a great place for tourists in search of outdoors; it enables in great abundance hiking, trekking, climbing, rafting and all other kinds of nature-related pursuits. For those more interested in man-made wonders, such as yours truly, Welsh offerings are somewhat less spectacular.


The Smallest House in Britain, Conwy, Wales


Which is not to say that you can’t find interesting things to do in Wales if you are primarily interested in history and architecture – and, after all, we can occasionally enjoy nature ourselves.



Twirl this hoop

The athletic fever amongst the parents in our family has shifted. While the girls continue their pursuits in skating, swimming and trampolining, I have all but stopped going to the gym. Sad, but true. Natasha, in the meantime, has picked up a new type of exercise to keep in shape. It is called the 3G[…]


Obama is growing on me

I can’t say that I’m a convert, but I can clearly see why Obama is an appealing candidate. Read his speech and I dare you to tell me that a picture of a thoughtful, moral and remarkably sincere human being has not formed in your head. Eloquent and moving too – but that’s a long-accepted[…]


Spammers get creative

I get my share of spam comment and trackback attempts, which are not at all visible to my faithful reader. Of the number of ways to prevent spam content from appearing on the website, I use “moderation”, which, for non-initiated, simply means that every comment submission goes through my explicit approval. Not the customer-friendliest approach,[…]


Sleepovers and food markets

A quick check of my posts for the last few months reveals that the chronicles of our daily doings have been lately limited to weekend happenstance. I can’t say that I am surprised by that. Sitting here thinking about things to write about, I am quite perplexed to pick something that does not qualify as “mundane”. It’s work, school, house chores, repeat Monday through Friday, for the four of us.

During weekends, though, we still manage to have some fun, even when we are not traveling to destinations old and new.



Movie review: Stardust



   As an admitted fan of fantasy, I was very much looking forward to finally seeing Stardust. It did not disappoint. Engaging plot, a universe populated by well-developed characters, a healthy sprinkling of magic – it all comes together to serve as a wonderful stage to explore The Big Idea. Which happens to be not about an affirmation of some philosophical credo or a celebration of the triumph of good over evil, – make no mistake, the good does prevail! – but a simple lovely truth.



Simple taxes made harder

If your income consists of solely salary and wages, then filing a tax return in England is a very simple self-assessment process. Online or on paper, you literally need to provide just a handful of numbers from your W-2 equivalent (called P60), tick off a bunch of boxes, sign, and voilà, you’re done.

It does get slightly more complicated if you have taxable interest earnings or capital gains (in the case of a non-ordinary non-domiciled alien who keeps all accounts offshore, those gains are non-taxable unless they are “remitted” onshore). More work comes with figuring out what you can exclude from your salary income based on having spent workdays abroad, if you are a non-dom, but in general, filing the return is a fairly quick and straightforward process.

Accounting firms inexplicably charge hundreds of pounds for the privilege of doing your UK taxes. Professional accounting help – for at least the first year, sometimes longer, – is a never-disputed component of any relocation package. Both of the facts above leave me scratching my head in confusion after my own first experience with UK returns.


Phones restored

In case you were wondering, the agency that manages our house insisted on fixing the phone cabling problem described in this post. The technician showed up, confirmed that some wiring was torn apart, fixed it in under ninety seconds and wrote up a report that will allow the agency to reclaim the cost of his[…]


Road tax will go up

Continuing with the threads of road tax, environment and a fight for lower emissions, the newly produced UK government Budget calls for an increase of that tax for the most-polluting vehicles to £425 a year. (among the sources, try this one) The increase will be put in place in April of 2009, which is after[…]